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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 13, 2006

Gretna manager praises Hearts fans after defeat

Gretna manager Rowan Alexander thanked Hearts supporters for their sporting tribute to his players after the Tennent's Scottish Cup final.

The Raydale Park players were applauded around Hampden Park after losing the final in a penalty shoot-out where misses from Derek Townsley and Gavin Skelton cost dearly.

The two clubs could not be separated after 120 minutes following Ryan McGuffie's 76th-minute equaliser from the spot after Rudi Skacel had opened the scoring six minutes before the interval.

Alexander said: 'The boys gave us all we could ask for and we are so proud of them.

  • Ivanauskas in Hearts talks

    'But this is the way the game should be - it is what football is all about. Friendship and an entertaining game.'

    Gretna managing director Brooks Mileson also applauded his players after the final.

    Mileson said: 'It's an emotional time for me and I'm so proud of the players.

    'It was a great game but what a terrible way to lose a final.

    'I knew we could play as well as we could, especially in the second half.

    'It was a fantastic achievement to take them all the way to penalties, we certainly gave them a game.'

    Hearts captain Steven Pressley paid tribute to Gretna after the Jambos' penalty shoot-out win in the Tennent's Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.

    After the two teams had finished the game at 1-1, penalty misses from Derek Townsley and Gavin Skelton saw the Bell's Second Division champions beaten.

    Pressley said: 'We are delighted but let's not forget the performance of Gretna - they were absolutely excellent.

    'This was for all of the supporters. It has been a turbulent season.

    'Credit to all the players, they have shown great unity.'

  • Ivanauskas in Hearts talks

    Hearts interim head coach Valdas Ivanauskas will discuss his future with majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov tomorrow after leading the club to Tennent's Scottish Cup glory.

    The 39-year-old is hoping the 4-2 penalty shoot-out triumph over Gretna at Hampden Park will convince Romanov of his ability to succeed Graham Rix, who was sacked in March, on a permanent basis.

    The former FBK Kaunas boss has already guided the Jambos into the Champions League qualifiers with a second-placed finish in the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

    But the Lithuanian concedes he does not know whether he will be allowed to carry on next season.

    Ivanauskas said:'I will have a discussion with Mr Romanov tomorrow when we will discuss the game and the future.

    'But I don't know whether I will still be here at the start if the pre-season.

    'I don't know whether the job we have done is good enough for me to get the job. I want to speak before I go on holiday on Monday.'

    But Romanov believes the club's seventh cup success has bolstered his dream of making Edinburgh the country's new power in Scottish football.

    He said:'Edinburgh, the city, and the team deserve this and I am very happy for them.

    'My ambition was to move the balance of power from Glasgow to Edinburgh and today was a massive step in that direction.'

    But Gretna ensured Romanov and the supporters would not enjoy a comfortable afternoon at the National Stadium.

    Hearts looked to be cruising after Rudi Skacel had given them a 39th-minute lead.

    But the Jambos were left hanging on after Ryan McGuffie equalised during the second half to set up a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

    However, Romanov insisted having the survivors of the Soviet Union K19 submarine disaster around him as guests helped calm his nerves.

    He added:'Victories like this will drive us on next season, but I was nervous throughout the game.

    'But the submariners kept me calm and took my mind off all of my worries.'

    However, Ivanauskas insists finishing runners-up in the SPL was'more important' to him than the cup win.

    He said: 'It was great to win the cup for the supporters to cap a great season.

    'But second place and a Champions League place was the most important thing to me.'

    Now Ivanauskas believes Hearts need to strengthen for Europe's top club competition.

    He added:'The Champions League is another level and we have to get new faces.'

    But Ivanauskas hailed the campaign the greatest in the history of the club.

    He said:'We have had a very long and difficult season, but it has been a fantastic one and the best ever for Hearts Football Club, despite everything that has happened this season and in the game.

    'We didn't take our chances today but I am very happy.'

    Referee Dougie McDonald could have cost Hearts the cup by not awarding Skacel an extra-time spot kick after the Czech republic international was felled by Gretna goalkeeper Alan Main.

    But Ivanauskas smiled:'I don't have a problem with him now.'

    Hearts finished the game without midfielder Paul Hartley, who was dismissed when he received a second caution for kicking out at Derek Townsley.

    Ivanauskas said:'Paul has been our best player this year but I can understand his frustration. That was no problem.'

    Townsley and Gavin Skelton missed crucial spot-kicks but Gretna manager Rowan Alexander has backed the pair to bounce back in time for the new season in Division One.

    He said:'They are professionals.

    'I am sure they are hurting but we will come back as a club and go on again and lift spirits. We have another big season ahead of us.'

    The Second Division champions are also in the UEFA Cup next season and Alexander added:'The confidence has always been there.

    'When you are winning, it's hard to lose that mentality but we have strength, togetherness and a great team spirit.

    'They have done us proud and the plaudits we have got gave us a lot of joy.'